Bonang Matheba is a celebrated presenter, style icon and brand ambassador. However, creating a signature cocktail for her required a bit of research on the part of ABV Brand’s mixologist Devin Cross, who started his career as a bartender in the UK before returning to SA.
On making it as a “spirit specialist” in the industry, he says, “there are bartending schools, which I won’t necessarily recommend. The best way to do it is to work as a bar-back and work your way up. As with anything, when you practice lots, it becomes really easy. And you need to read a lot, too. So those are three of the most important things”.He continues, “Right now, I’m standing in front of a stack of cocktail books. Each one teaches you how to make them differently. A vital ingredient (in this job) is a passion for the craft. That is what makes a good mixologist. You need to understand ice and dilution, and the pressure of ingredients. You have to give it love. It’s the attention to detail.”
When it comes to the latter aspect, he’s meticulous.
He says, “I start out by asking questions like: Where do you like to go for a holiday? What’s your favourite colour? What’s your favourite thing to drink? And by figuring that out, you get a sense of the personality.”
Cross continues, “With Bonang, one of her favourite places is Thailand. Her favourite colour is pink. So the drink had to be pink. Then I had to think more about her personality. The way she is in front of the camera is very much like she is in real life: bubbly and loud. So I decided to use raspberries. I wanted to use rose liqueur as well. Whenever you put rose in a cocktail, it can be quite overbearing. It needs to be tamed quite a lot. What works nicely with the rose and raspberries is that you get that earthiness. Bonang has that. She is a caring person. This shines through in her charity work.”
Her Fleur De Courvoisier cocktail is loosely based on the 1934 Cosmopolitan cocktail.
Cross adds, “Most people know the Cosmopolitan from the 80s and 90s as cranberry juice, a slice of lemon and Cointreau. But, for me, that recipe is often misguided. People get the measurements wrong. I wanted to bring that drink back and make it multi-dimensional in the same way that Bonang is.” Bonang reveals: “I’ve always aligned with brands that resonate with me and my lifestyle. This time around, it’s not about the drink but the lifestyle the brand exudes - sophistication and the high life. I totally love the cocktail. It is all me in the ingredients. It is ... light, beautiful, fruity and sexy.”
THE STORY BEHIND MZANSI’S TWO OTHER INFLUENCERS
Tbo Touch (Radio mogul)
Cross says, “Tbo likes drinking things straight up and neat. There is a hip hop star element there. He’s a person who takes over a room. I needed to give him something intense but also something that looks elegant in a glass. So I took a Manhattan, infused it with a chai tea and paired with White Cacao. It brings that pep of style. And the creaminess balances of the Cacao balances the chai and cognac.
David Tlale (internationally-acclaimed fashion designer)
“He is quite interesting,” Cross notes. “In fact, he loves one of our signature drinks, which is a very classic cocktail for 1920 Paris. It was basically a shot of Courvoisier, a sugar cube, dash of bitters and bubbles. And he loved that. So I tried to make him something similar.”
He adds, “I wanted to combine the fashion worlds of Milan and Paris. So I put in Amarena cherry, which is Italian. It’s the dark, sticky one and super delicious. I added bubbles and infused it with cinnamon.
Fleur de Courvoisier by Bonang Matheba
50ml Courvoisier VS
25ml fresh lemon juice
25ml rose liqueur
1 egg white
Shake the delicate mix and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass, garnished with pink rose petals.
Celebrity presenter and style icon Bonang Matheba.
Courvoisier Touch by Tbo
50ml Courvoisier VSOP
10ml Bols White Cacao
25ml Chai-infused Sweet Vermouth
2 shots of bitters
Shake all ingredients together in a coupette glass. Oak smoke or use fresh sliced lemon for garnish. Best served with ice.
Courvoisier Noir by David Tlale
25ml Courvoisier VSOP
1 Amarena cherry
2 shots of bitters
100ml MCC Brut
Add all ingredients in a coupe glass. Spray with cinnamon aroma. Use a slice of fresh orange for garnish.